DAUNTED? Don’t believe a word of it.
Danny Wilson warned Darryl Westlake, Sheffield United’s latest new signing, could have trouble adjusting to the pressure cooker atmosphere of life at Bramall Lane.
But, the former Walsall defender revealed last night, he took to the pitch against Zejtun Corinthians having just completed a task far more nerve-wracking than satisfying arguably League One’s most racous, partisan crowd.
“One of the first things I had to do after checking in to our hotel was sing a song in front of the rest of the lads,” Westlake, speaking from United’s training camp in Malta, told The Star.
“I did an R Kelly number and, let me tell you, football is a doddle compared to that. Especially when you’ve got a voice like mine.”
Westlake might have trouble hitting the right notes off the pitch. On it, though, is no problem.
Wilson, outlining the reasons behind his decision to spend a chunk of his transfer budget on the former Walsall youngster, confessed to being excited about the 21-year-old’s youth and experience.
“He’s right at the start of his career in terms of age,” Wilson said. “But he’s played nearly 80 matches.”
Westlake, who turned his back on West Bromwich Albion as a kid because “I just wanted to kick around with my mates,” clearly possess the single-mindedness usually associated with a knarled old pro.
But, as Wilson noted, he is also adaptable. A potent combination of purpose and potential.
“I just love my football,” Westlake continued. “And I love watching footage of Barcelona and Spain.
“That, for me, is how the game should be played and it’s what I aspire to myself.
“I’m a full-back and if you watch how the ones at Barca get forward, well, it’s something else. Frightening in fact.
“But they work so hard off the ball and they keep so many clean sheets. That, for me, is as good as it gets.
“I want to learn, improve and become a better player,” he added. “And I know that I can do that here.”
Westlake, who rejected Walsall’s offer of a new contract because “After scrapping against relegation I wanted to come to a club that can challenge,” joined Wolves following that spell in Sutton Coldfield’s Sunday League with Beacon Colts before eventually finding his way to the Banks’s Stadium.
“I’d never direspect Walsall. The great thing there, was that they just chucked me straight in the team. And that, for my education, was invaluable.”
But the likes of Burton Albion and Shrewbury Town - United’s first two opponents of the 2012/13 campaign - should take note.
Despite his admiration for Iberian ingenuity, opponents would be wrong to dismiss Wilson’s latest acquisition as a show pony or soft touch.
“The player I admired the most growing up was John Terry,” Westlake said. “He’s commanding, uncompromising and a leader.
“All the qualities you want from someone who operates at the back. It’s great to try and play football because, at the end of the day, you’ve got to enjoy what you do.
“But, at the same time, that doesn’t mean to say you can’t dig in and show that side of your character too.”
United continue their preparations for August 11th’s Capital One Cup tie with Albion when they face Hibernians tomorrow evening.